Old Bus Photos

Portsmouth Corporation – Thornycroft J – BK 2986 – 10

Portsmouth Corporation - Thornycroft J - BK 2986 - 10

Portsmouth Corporation
Thornycroft J
Dodson O16/18RO

BK 2986 is a Thornycroft J, built in 1919 for Portsmouth Corporation. It originally had a Wadham O16/18RO seater body but was rebodied in 1926 with an ex London General AEC B 1920 Dodson O16/18RO body. Having been built in Basingstoke, it is fitting that she is seen in the Milestones museum there, one of three Portsmouth buses. Note the tram tracks – there’s a Portsmouth tram there as well. The photograph was take on 12th November 2013.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies

07/07/14 – 15:54

Thanks for posting this elderly bus in it’s current position. We are fortunate that Portsmouth Corporation had what we would now call an enlightened view of bus preservation. Both this bus, from it’s first ever batch of buses, and a tram (No 84) were retained by the Corporation from the 1930’s onwards. They also saved the very first trolleybus (201) in 1958, which then went to Beaulieu in 1960. It has had a more chequered history since, but has also resided at Basingstoke for a few years. It is now safe with the CPPTD (the preservation group, not the Corporation!) in Hampshire. The Thornycroft in the picture was quite often brought out and driven around on special occasions for some years. At that time it was in the then-current red/white livery. I remember seeing it at the Brighton Coach Rally c.1962, with a bikini-clad young lady hanging on at the back, trying to smile, wave, and keep her balance! In 1976 (I think), it was used by representatives of the Portsmouth Council to open the new M275 motorway into Portsmouth. Fortunately there was no park and ride service then, otherwise there might have been some suggestions for use? – no, probably not. Both this Thornycroft and the tram seem to be well cared for now, and located in a sympathetic setting at Basingstoke.

Michael Hampton

07/07/14 – 16:39

Am I not right in thinking that this bus was originally No. 10, but renumbered 1 for most of its preserved life, more recently getting back its correct number? I used to see it a lot (with 201) at the late lamented Dave Chalker’s annual Southsea Spectacular on Southsea Common.
Does anyone have a photo of one of these vehicles with original Wadham body. I had one but can’t find it now – typical! Another survivor is what’s left of the 1931 diesel-engined Crossley Condor (RV720), after being cut down as a service vehicle. After being abandoned on the council tip, it was rescued and is a runner.

Chris Hebbron

08/07/14 – 07:18

When you see vehicles like this, you realise the great strides made in chassis and body design in the 13 years between 1919 and 1932.

Chris Hebbron

08/07/14 – 07:20

Yes, Chris, this bus was originally No. 10 in the fleet, out of the series 1-10 for the batch. I read somewhere in a fleet history that it had also been used as a petrol tanker by the Corporation for a while after withdrawal from passenger service. As the Karrier 6-wheel double-deckers bought in 1927/28 to replace these Thornycroft J’s were very thirsty buses , this probably explains the conversion. Another fleet history does state that the Karriers had to be refuelled during the day to keep them in service. Presumably, after the Karriers were withdrawn in 1935, No 10 was redundant as a tanker, and a Dodson body was re-united with it for preservation. It became No.1 in c.1942 – an odd year for such a decision to be made and carried out (don’t you know there’s a war on?). It remained as No.1 until virtually the end of CPPTD, and it’s correct original No.10 restored, I think in the early 1990’s, but I’m open to correction on that.

Michael Hampton

03/10/14 – 08:39

No 10
Copyright Unknown

I finally found the picture of No. 10 with its original body, on The Hard – I’ve only ever seen one other photo of these with Wadham bodies.

Chris Hebbron

05/10/14 – 07:26

There is another photograph of this bus with the original body in the PSV Fleet History PH14 Portsmouth Citybus Ltd.(and its predecessors) Pathfinder UK Ltd. Published February 1997

Andy Hemming

25/08/20 – 06:15

Chris Hebbron’s monochrome picture of this bus, also to be found on LTHL, is from a Pamlin print of which I have a postcard. This dates the image capture to 5 October 1925, though the shot seems to show decidedly bright and sunny weather for autumn.

Roger Cox

26/08/20 – 05:21

A sunny Autumn? Well, that’s Sunny Southsea for you Roger! Thx for the extra information and date.

Chris Hebbron


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D J Jones (Crymych) – Thornycroft – DE 6181

D  J  Jones (Crymych) - Thornycroft - DE 6181

D. J. Jones (Crymych)
Thornycroft ??

This Thornycroft was first registered to D. J. Jones in September 1927. The body maker is not known but is possibly Thomas & Thomas of Carmarthen who built many for this area’s operators. It is seen here carrying children to school in Crymmych (accepted spelling at the time) and the owner is at the wheel. Also on board are his son and daughter and a young William Stanley Rees who would later work for D. J. Jones as a mechanic and driver. Later still, Stan Rees would set up his own garage before taking over the buses operated by Edwards Bros, also of Crymmych, and eventually calling his bus company Midway Motors. Midway still operate, now in the hands of Mrs Elan Rees and her three sons (grandsons of W.S. Rees) whilst the daughter of D. J. Jones still operates school runs with an LDV Convoy. I am currently attempting to write the story of these North Pembrokeshire operators and invite any Old Bus Photos readers to input any information at their disposal!

Photograph courtesy of Mrs Decima Harries with Copy by Les Dickinson

27/01/14 – 08:16

Around 1924, the War Office revived the ‘subvention’ or ‘subsidy’ scheme under which vehicles of an approved design suitable for military use would command an initial subsidy to set against the purchase price, and then an annual subsidy for three years. This, it was considered, would provide a ready fleet of suitable machines for commandeering should hostilities recommence. The Thornycroft offering was the A1 with a wheelbase of 11ft 6ins, but a stretched version called the A1 Long appeared in 1925 with a wheelbase of 14ft. Uprated versions for 2 ton loads called the A2 and A2 Long followed in 1926 This seems to be an example of the A1 Long or A2 Long, which had a side valve engine of 3.62 litres producing 36 bhp at 1500 rpm, a four speed crash gearbox and a worm drive rear axle. The source of this detail is Alan Townsin’s book on the manufacturer.

Roger Cox

28/01/14 – 13:19

How many times do we look admiringly at old photos of buses and coaches from earlier times and think "What a fine example of the coachbuilder’s craft"? Couldn’t really say that about this one in all honesty!

John Stringer

28/01/14 – 16:37

Is it in a rut, or is that rear tyre under-inflated? Nevertheless, a really interesting photograph…I really like viewing the ancient photos of the beginnings of public transport, not just for the vehicles, but the old street scenes, and the clothing worn in those days. My father would have been 9 yrs old in 1927, and I imagine that a sight of this type of bus would have been nothing out of the ordinary.

Norman Long

31/08/14 – 08:30

I was transported to school from Llandissilio to Narberth between 1954 / 1956 in a Sentinel just like ODE 182, I remember the sword on the front,it appealed to a ten year old. I wonder how many 1949 models like that one that Edwards of Crymych operated.


01/09/14 – 07:30

Yours was probably NDE 689 Richard. It was delivered to Pritchard, Narberth in September 1951 but was sold to Edwards Bros, Crymych in June 1953. They had two of their own. Roberts (Pioneer) Newport had two, Harries, Prendergast had one.

Les Dickinson

10/03/17 – 06:54

I well remember Dai John Jones as a wonderful character, his wife was a cousin of mine. Dai John drove me and my Mother to Bristol in June 1941, at the height of the blitz. He stayed for a night before driving back – we all had to sleep in an air-raid shelter. Regretfully I have lost touch with his family, Denley and Daish (not sure of the spelling there). I believe Denley emigrated and when I last enquired, Daish still lived above the garage. I recall Dai John’s coaches ferrying pupils to and from Cardigan county School in 1941.

James Davies

10/03/17 – 08:44

James Davies, I can confirm that Denley emigrated to Australia. I can confirm that his sister Decima, aka Dess or Dessie, still lives above the garage. She eventually retired in 2016 and had continued with a minibus on a school contract right up to that time. She was subject of a TV programme after 60 years of coach driving. I spent some time talking to her in preparation for a book all about the operators in Crymych & Maenclochog, a lovely lady with an excellent memory. Her coffee and scones were nice too! The DJJ story makes interesting reading and I hope that my publisher will be taking this one as soon as they finish work on my Cardigan book.

Les Dickinson

18/06/17 – 06:56

Sorry to be so long getting back and thank you, Les Dickinson, for your most interesting comments. I look forward to seeing your Cardigan book. I also hope to be able to reach the area some time this year and will be making an effort to call at Crymych. It would be great to meet Dess again.

James Davies

18/06/17 – 07:56

James, I am currently checking and amending the proof copy and will be returning it to the publisher in the next few days. They have a little work left to do but will be sending to printers very soon.
The publisher will then accept the Crymych/Maenclochog book as soon as this Cardigan one goes to print. Perhaps we might meet when you are in the area and see if you have anything to add to the book before they call it in? Peter will put you in touch with me if you think this is a good idea.

Les Dickinson

22/06/17 – 05:54

Thank you again, Les Dickinson. I should be delighted to meet you when I am next in the Crymych area.

James Davies


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Southampton Corporation – Thornycroft Daring – OW 3434 – 9

Southampton Corporation Thorneycroft Daring

Southampton Corporation
Thornycroft Daring DDFC
Park Royal H28/26R

Here is a rare beast, an ex Southampton Corporation Thornycroft Daring. It was one of 9 such vehicles they bought, in penny numbers, between 1933 and 1937. They were all withdrawn in 1946 and sold. No.9 went to Safeway of London and, in the critical vehicle shortage days post-war, around 1949, it was pressed into service with London Transport. Note the LT roundel (on the radiator) that all such hired vehicles carried. I should add that it was very rare for London Transport to hire double deckers. The bus looks fairly presentable for one with an expected design life of 10 years, yet now 16 years of age, including the trials and tribulations of wartime minimal maintenance, even neglect. And there’s even a shine to the bodywork, which shows no signs of sag. Sad to say, it was not preserved.
Thornycroft buses were not that common – Southampton Corporation probably bought them because the company had factories in Southampton and Basingstoke.

Incidentally, the car following the bus is a Triumph Renown.

Photograph and copy contributed by Chris Hebbron

Thornycroft Darings were very rare, SHMD Joint Board having the biggest fleet with just sixteen. Sadly, bus design was advancing so fast in the 1930s that Thornycroft were always just a bit "off the pace" being set by the technological leaders Leyland, AEC and Daimler.
The SHMD buses all had Gardner 6LWs, and Southampton’s last four 5LWs, but some had Thornycroft’s own petrol or (not very good) diesel. By all accounts the light chassis and big engine in the Joint Board buses made them very quick on hills, if noisy!
The SHMD buses also ran for sixteen years, and some were sold for non-psv use, so they were pretty tough. As far as I can trace, only one Daring survives, and that is a shortened instructional chassis in a museum in Sydney, the remains of a lonely export model!

David Jones

It’s true that SHMD was a large buyer of Thornycroft buses – I’ve counted some 104 of various models between 1925 and 1936. There were a total of 13 Darings spread over 1933, 1935 and 1936, all with Gardner 6LW engines. The very last one to survive did not go until 1959! Maybe it was a ‘learner’. The unusual thing about some 1925 Thorneycrofts was that they had Vickers bodies. I never knew that Vickers built bus bodies; one always thinks that aircraft was their forté!

Chris Hebbron

Sorry, definitely sixteen Darings at Stalybridge:
144 (ex-demonstrator with Beadle body)1933
145-149 (5) 1933/1934
150-155 (6) 1935
156-159 (4) 1936
147 & 148 were actually delivered with Thornycroft diesels, but SHMD knew a lemon when they saw one, and quickly swapped them for 6LWs.
Vickers built a good many bodies in the early/middle twenties, particularly on Thornycroft chassis; many were supplied to the GWR. The probable explanation is that at that period, bus chassis builders normally offered their products complete with a standard body which was sub-contracted to anybody with the spare capacity to take on the work at the time. Thus many Leyland TD1s with the standard Leyland body were actually built by Northern Counties and others to Leyland drawings. In later years this practice died out, mainly because operators had more idea of what they wanted and laid down more exacting specifications rather than just accepting what was offered.
Thornycrofts would have been on close terms with Vickers through the warship side of their business, as Vickers would have supplied most of the guns fitted to Thornycroft-built destroyers, so they were perhaps the obvious people to ask when bodies were needed. Vickers in turn would be desperate for work with the collapse of War Office orders for tanks, guns and aircraft at the end of the Great War.
Metropolitan Vickers supplied steel body frames to Manchester Corporation as late as 1933, but like many other early attempts at steel framing they very rot-prone and the vehicles concerned were rebodied sooner than should have been necessary. That seems to have been the end of Vickers attempts to build bus bodies.

David Jones

I defer to you, David, on numbers! I assume that neither you nor anyone else has a photo of several of these Darings together!

Chris Hebbron

As far as I know the record for a picture of Darings is the photo taken at Northern Counties in 1935, which shows all that year’s batch for SHMD; sadly they’re not finished, let alone painted! SHMD Darings do seem to have been very camera-shy!

David Jones

17/10/11 – 07:26

Referring to Dave Jones` comment about Leyland, I always had the impression, due to similarities of design, that many Leyland bodies in the late 30s and 40s were built by Alexanders and Park Royal.

Jim Hepburn

17/10/11 – 11:39

Indeed Jim, that’s true, and a good number of early postwar PD1 Titans had bodies contracted out to Alexander, Samlesbury and even one, in Samuel Ledgard’s batch of six in 1946, Lancashire Aviation – despite its aeronautical origin however, the latter was no more spritely than the other five !!

Chris Youhill

26/05/12 – 20:23

I’m a bit surprised to find that there is no reference in the list to the left of either Hants & Dorset or Wilts & Dorset. Whatever has this to do with a Thornycroft bus? Well, The Red & White group – which is listed – had as a subsidiary Venture of Basingstoke. It was passed to Wilts & Dorset at Nationalisation. There’s a chapter on Venture in "The Definitive History Of Wilts & Dorset 1915 – 1972" (by Colin Morris and Andrew Waller). It seems that it was established as a means of getting staff home and back to the factory in their lunch break, hence a "venture" on the part of the company management. Mrs Thornycroft (JI’s daughter in law) is cited as being the inspiration.

Pete Davies

27/05/12 – 11:30

Vickers of Crayford were one of the biggest builders of bus bodies in the 1920s, and they, also, produced the standard TD1 body for Leyland, the batches for Bradford being examples of this.
Southampton Corporation had many J type Thornycrofts in the 1920s, and also a batch of 6 wheel double deckers with English Electric bodies about 1929, so their small numbers of Darings were perhaps just a token order bearing in mind the earlier close relationship. SCT, in that period, were perhaps equally well known for contemporary purchases of Guy Arab models, with both composite, and metal framed Park Royal bodies, but they settled down after the 1936 orders, with the good old Leyland Titan, reverting to Arabs in the post war era.

John Whitaker

28/05/12 – 08:08

Nottingham City Transport bought four Thorneycroft Darings with Gardner 5LW engines from Southampton in 1947. The four were OW 9932, AOW 263, AOW 264, AOW 265.
The NCT fleet numbers were 122 to 125 and the Southampton fleet numbers 6 and 60 to 62. These buses didn’t last long with NCT as all had been withdrawn and sold by 1949.

Michael Elliott

24/11/15 – 06:13

Vickers built PSV bodies and railway carriages in the 1920s in factories at Crayford Surrey and in Nottingham. The works manager at Crayford in 1924 was Bill Black who was later Chairman of Leyland Motor Corporation.
Metropolitan Viockers and Cammell Laird later merged their coachbuilding interests to form Metro-Cammell, based in Birmingham, who worked very closely and later took over Weymann of Addlestone.

To Jim Hepburn,
Alexander built bodies to Leyland pattern from 1942 to 1948 or so. If you want a good idea of how a Leyland Utility would have looked, an Alexander TD4 rebuild would give a good idea.
Park Royal did not build to Leyland Outlines in the 1940s but other firms that did were Lancaster Aircraft Corporation and Samlesbury Engineering.
Massey Brothers built to the original Leyland steel reinforced Hardwood pattern into the late 1930s customers including Wigan Corporation and J. Fishwick & Sons.

Stephen Allcroft

08/03/17 – 06:15

When I was at Clifton College Bristol Preparatory School in the 1950’s we would be driven to our sports fields across Clifton Suspension Bridge in one of two Thorneycroft buses. They were impressively ancient, the driver sat outside with only a sort of porch roof to cover him. I remember a large fly off hand brake, a bulb horn and spoke wheels. I wonder what happened to these buses and whether anyone has a photograph of them with their College livery on their sides?

James Rooke

25/01/19 – 07:02

As a very belated postscript to the discussion on Vickers bodies, I recently discovered why Vickers stopped building bus bodies -sort of. In the mid-thirties they bought a major share in Metro-Cammell, having obviously decided that it was just easier to buy in the expertise than to struggle on alone. It’s all rather reminiscent of the way they bought Supermarines out to get hold of R J Mitchell, if rather less glamorous!

David Jones

01/10/19 – 07:07


Your correspondent James Rooke asks for photographs of the Thornycroft ‘buses which were used here for many years. The attached come from D. Winterbottom, Clifton after Percival (1990). p. 98; despite the caption the photographs were taken in 1965; at any rate the negatives we hold are of that date. ‘B.B’ means Beggar’s Bush, the site of playing fields on the other side of the Avon Gorge.

Dr C S Knighton

01/10/19 – 15:23

A possible explanation of the disparity between caption and negative dates.
The original negative, or even plate, had been lost so a photographic copy has been taken of original enlargements.
I have had this done, before the days of computer scanners, in order to pass photos of ancestors to other family members.

John Lomas

04/02/21 – 10:03

There were three of these Thornycroft model K buses when I was at ‘Clifton Prep’ in the late 40’s. One afternoon on the bridge returning from the playing fields the driver misjudged the width of the bridge which was narrow & the bus body struck the ironwork above the left front side glass which shattered. I was sitting at the back & had a good view of the incident, luckily no one was hurt. The wood floors were so worn you could look through & see the drive shaft revolving. The seating was along each side & across the back. The drivers used the starting handle, no electric starter. I was told they were 1926 models. About 1949 they replaced the damaged bus with a Bedford, the superbly durable model K [made 1939 to 1953].



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